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A Jewel in the Dunes: Florida’s Streamsong Resort

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Streamsong

When plans for the Streamsong Resort were first announced in 2010, I’ll admit I was skeptical.

Nothing about a golf resort built in the absolute middle of nowhere sounded like a great idea, especially given the number of resorts in Florida that have their best days well behind them. Combine that with an economy that was still struggling at best and it seemed the developers of Streamsong had seen a mirage while wandering the desert that was their abandoned phosphate mine.

After experiencing the finished product first hand, it appears that my early thoughts on Streamsong had failed to take into account that valuable lesson which Kevin Costner taught us many years ago.

If you build it… They will come.

Make no mistake, Streamsong is 50 miles from the nearest thing resembling civilization. Like Bandon, Kohler, or even Pinehurst, however, the resort’s remote location is more than offset by the unique set of circumstances that make it an ideal setting for exceptional golf. In this case, the previously mentioned phosphate mine and its towering sand dunes are similar to those found on links courses across the pond. Soon after turning off the country road that leads to Streamsong, the feeling of isolation gives way to that of anticipation and the sense that something special is waiting to be discovered amongst those dunes.

Of course, that something special is Streamsong’s pair of highly acclaimed courses — the Red designed by Coore & Crenshaw, and the Blue by Tom Doak. Despite having roughly 16,000 acres of available land, the courses at Streamsong both run over the same general piece of property, even criss-crossing one another at various times. Yet to call the Red and the Blue “sister courses” would be a disservice. Tom Doak himself once called the two “cousins,” a description that seems much more fitting.

Although there is much that the two have in common, there are some very noticeable differences between Streamsong Red and Blue. For yours truly, the Red seemed more playable through the green, with a welcome absence of forced carries and blind shots. That generous concession was more than offset, however, by enormous greens that were formidable at best and downright treacherous at their worst.

Streamsong
The giant green on the Red’s 5th hole, with hole No. 6 in background.

Meanwhile, over on the Blue side, slightly smaller and less severe greens were joined by hazards that seemed more in play, and bunkers that at times were best described as craters. Particularly memorable was the bunker short of the No. 4 green, which is reminiscent of the massively deep trap on the same hole at Doak’s Barnbougle Dunes.

StreamsongLodge
Opening tee shot on Blue, along with #7 on Red and one intimidated golfer.

Along with their individual traits, there are plenty of similarities that tie Streamsong Red and Blue together. For starters, very little earth had to be moved for either course, as most of that was done over 50 years ago by the phosphate miners. This fit nicely into the minimalist style of both designers. In addition, aside from the “native” areas similar to those at Pinehurst No. 2, there is not a blade of rough to be found on either course. Instead, the golfer is presented with insanely generous fairways, and greens that are surrounded by enormous collection areas as opposed to thick grass. Those run-off areas many times lead right to the start of the next hole, where one doesn’t find a neatly defined tee box outlined with rough, but rather just two markers basically placed right on the fairway.

After spending two days at Streamsong, I came away with several pieces of advice that will come in handy for anyone planning a visit. First and foremost, spend plenty of time practicing your bump and run shots, as well as putting from well off the green. Finding the collection areas that surround every green might seem like the better deal as opposed to a bunker, but the severity of the greens and lack of experience putting from 10 yards off the green made getting up and down a truly difficult task. Case in point: I recorded my very first five putt of my career on No. 18 of the Red course.

In addition, don’t make the same mistake I did and not set aside time to enjoy the other amenities offered by the resort. There’s a full service spa, skeet shooting and guided bass fishing, which seemed to be the topic of choice each morning on the putting green. The lakes at Streamsong are filled with so many huge bass that the resort was asked by the state to record how many catches over eight pounds have been made on its property. So far this year, the number is approaching 30.

StreamsongWRX
The ultra-modern lodge at Streamsong.

So comes the inevitable question — which course is better?

Most of the reviews I read leading up to the visit gave an edge to the Red course. When debating the subject over dinner in one of the lodge’s restaurants, cleverly named P2O5 (the compound for Phosphate), the consensus around the table was that the Blue was better. The consensus minus one, that is. I was the lone dissenter in favor of the Red.

Something everyone is sure to agree on, however, is that Streamsong is a one of a kind experience. When the resort was announced four years ago, it promised a world-class golf resort unlike anything else in the state of Florida. I was skeptical, but that’s exactly what they’ve delivered. And with thousands upon thousands of acres still at their disposal, something tells me that Streamsong Red and Blue won’t be alone.

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D.J. Jones is a lifelong golfer and plays to a 6 handicap when he’s not too busy pursuing his other great passion – travel. Tag along with his golf and travel adventures on his blog, The World of Deej.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. KJ

    Nov 2, 2014 at 6:56 am

    Lakeland is 30 miles away, not 50. The Blue is wide open off the tee with massive, ridiculous greens. I liked the Red much better, interesting shots tee to green and while the greens were huge they were fair, not like the miniature golf course greens on the Blue. Doak designed 3 holes on the red and C&C designed 3 on the blue. Talk is that at least one more course is going to be built. Tons of big gators and poisonous snakes, if you get bit out there you’re f’d.

  2. dot dot

    Oct 31, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    So what you are saying is a some really rich people in the mining industry needed a place to bury a few million bucks and thought it would be nice to build themselves a couple of golf courses. Makes sense. Wish I could have done it.

  3. Dave Lucey

    Oct 31, 2014 at 11:46 am

    I believe the author mismatched his descriptions of Blue and Red. They are exactly opposite as he described them.

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Courses

Hidden Gem of the Day: George Dunne National in Oak Forest, Illinois

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here!

Today’s Hidden Gem of the Day was submitted by GolfWRX member DeeBee30, who takes us to George Dunne National in Oak Forest, Illinois. The course is a part of the Illinois Forest Preserve golf system, and in DeeBee30’s description of the course, the challenge provided is underlined as just one of the highlights of the course.

“Really fun tree-lined parkland layout with some interesting holes that cover rolling terrain that you don’t find in many Chicago-area golf courses.  Coming in at 7262 yards and 75.4/142 from the tips, Dunne offers four sets of tees that will provide a good test for most golfers.  The course gets a lot of play, but it’s always in great condition.”

According to George Dunne National’s website, 18 holes during the week will cost in the region of $40, while the rate rises to $75 should you want to play on the weekend.

@ThomasRWitt1963

@GolfTfs

@Kurtis1908

Check out the full forum thread here, and submit your Hidden Gem.

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Hidden Gem of the Day: Gearhart Golf Links in Gearhart, Oregon

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These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here!

Today’s Hidden Gem of the Day was submitted by GolfWRX member Mr Guy, who takes us to Gearhart Golf Links in Gearhart, Oregon. Established in 1892, Gearhart Golf Links is the oldest course on the Oregon coast, and in his description of the track, Mr Guy praises the design of the course.

“Super fun links design out on the northern Oregon course. Ocean not visible but right near it and there a few holes that would not be out of place anywhere.”

According to Gearhart Golf Links’ website, 18 holes can be played for $50, however, to play in peak summer months will set you back $85.

@rg_ducksports

@mauilou808

@tonijdear

Check out the full forum thread here, and submit your Hidden Gem.

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Exploring Ireland: Where to golf, drink and stay on the Emerald Isle. Pt. 4. Bearna Golf Club, Galway

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In these series of articles, I will be taking you around the Emerald Isle providing you with great golf courses to visit in some of the loveliest spots in Ireland. I’ll also be highlighting the best and most authentic Irish bars in these spots, as well as places to stay, eat and how to get there. Whether you’re taking a golfing holiday to Ireland in 2019 or are interested in doing so sometime in the future, I’ll make sure to let you in on the best places to spend your time.

In Part Three of our Exploring Ireland Series, we went west and focused on Spanish Point Golf Club in Clare. Now it’s time for Part Four, and we’re staying on the west coast and taking the short trip up to County Galway.

Galway city is famous for its bustling nightlife, and in terms of bars to choose from, there are few better places in Ireland. Whether it’s a quiet night out and a meal, enjoying a few pints with some live traditional music, or a wild all-nighter you’re looking for, Galway certainly has you covered. Conveniently, the city also homes some top golf courses, which makes it a must-visit destination for anyone coming to this island.

Bearna Golf Club, Galway

@kevinmarkham

Galway Golf Club and Galway Bay Golf Resort are usually the two golf courses that people think of when they mention this county. But lurking under the radar is Bearna Golf Club, which will provide you with just as incredible an experience as those two courses, at a lower price.

Located within a 15-minute drive of Galway City, Bearna GC offers an authentic Irish golfing experience. Surrounded by bogland, you can expect your nose to take in all of the scents of Ireland as you navigate your way through the rugged land of humps, gorse bushes and ditches that will give your game a real workout.

@kevinmarkham

Creeks will appear on most fairways, so don’t expect to be able to turn up and grip it and rip it. Bearna is a golf course that is going to make you think, and with the challenges provided, will most likely test your patience as well as your skill.

The track offers five different sets of tees, all of which provide for a fun test. The course ranges between 4,897 yards and 6,271 yards and plays as either a Par 72 or 71 depending on the tees you choose. Thirteen holes feature water, and the one relief that you will find here that is different than other courses in the area is the lack of fairway bunkers.

@IrishGolfPhotos

Robert J. Browne designed the course back in 1996, and as well as the feeling you will have of being amongst nature, you will also have impressive views of the Aran Islands, Galway Bay and the famous Burren.

During the week, 18 holes around Bearna GC will set you back just under $50, while to play on the weekend the rate rises to $75. Don’t be surprised if after your round you want another crack at this deceptive course.

Food & Drink – Tig Coili, Galway

@DBloom451

There is no “best pub in Galway.” The city has an inordinate amount of amazing watering holes to spend your night, and it just comes down to personal taste and what experience you are looking to have for your night. As someone who loves the feel of an old traditional Irish pub though, Tig Coili gets my vote.

@stacy_sobieski

Located in the Latin Quarter of Galway City, this place will often have swarms of people flooding out from the bar onto the street. Traditional music plays here every night, with 14 music sessions each week. The pub prides itself on its music, with pictures of famous musicians that have played here in the past covering the walls.

Also, Tig Coili’s pint of Guinness is renowned for being one of the best in the area, and it’s what 90 percent of folks will be drinking for the night here.

@MeetInGalway

As for food in Galway, it can only be oysters. Described by multiple top chefs as the “best flavoured in the world,” the oysters here come from Galway Bay and are so popular in the city that should you visit here in September you can enjoy Galway’s three day Oyster festival.

You can hop into most bars in Galway serving food and throw back half a dozen oysters, but if you want to experience them for a sit-down meal then go and visit Oscars Seafood Bistro, where the flavour will blow your socks off. An early bird two-course meal of half a dozen oysters and a plate of steaming hot mussels with fries will cost just $20. The perfect drink pairing for oysters? Guinness. Ideal.

Where To Stay

My recommendation is to stay in the center of Galway. We’ve gone traditional in our visits to Donegal and Clare, but for Galway, the city is so alive that you will want to stay right in the heart of it. The Jury’s Inn is a solid option, which will leave you within walking distance of the best bars, restaurants and sights to see in the city. A double room here will set you back in the region of $100 a night.

@WriterVicYates

If you like to shop then visit Quay Street, where you can take in the shops while plenty of buskers on the street entertain you, while the bronze statue of Irish writer Oscar Wilde and Estonian writer Eduard Vilde is an imposing outdoor sight that is a trendy spot for a photo.

@IndoSport

But as we’re sports lovers, then when in Galway do whatever you can to catch a game of hurling. Galway’s hurling side are currently one of the best teams in the land, winning the All-Ireland title in 2017, and they possess some of the most passionate fans. Just try not to mention the last final when you get here.

How to Get There

Galway is about as accessible as it gets from anywhere in the island. You can take the train from any major city in Ireland, and it’ll take you right into the city center of Galway. A direct train from Dublin City will arrive in Galway in just over two hours.

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19th Hole

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